The PA Grand Jury Report

In December of 1776, Thomas Paine penned the immortal words:

These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.

The piece itself is called The Crisis.

We who are suffering in the Church right now might swap some terms and circumstances in Paine’s clarion call and take them to heart.

From a priest…

Dear Fr. Z,

I am one of the priests in the middle of the storm here in PA. We are saddened and angered by the the revelations of the Grand Jury report as many readers are, but we also are now entering a kind of Gethsemane. My request is simple: please keep praying for us and asking the readers to do the same.

Also, if you you find it desirable to do so, please remind them that no diocese is immune from this scourge we are suffering now in PA. I suspect few if any American dioceses could be subjected to the level of scrutiny we were and come out unscathed. (Subpoena of all diocesan personnel files of any priest accused, credible or not, for thorough examination by the grand jury.) I pray that no others are subjected to such a trial.

Please withhold my name and diocese from any mention you might make.

We must not be “summer faithful and sunshine Catholics” and “shrink from service of our Church”.

Penance.  Penance.  Penance.

Reparation. Reparation. Reparation.

We must stand on our knees now.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Clerical Sexual Abuse, Priests and Priesthood, The Coming Storm, The future and our choices and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Ellen says:

    I am going to fast on bread and water every Friday and say the St. Michael prayers every day.

  2. hwriggles4 says:

    Why is it we only hear about the bad ones?

  3. Akita says:

    Let the scales fall from your eyes, all good and holy diocesan priests.

    Under Francis there may soon be the rite of “blessing of same-sex couples” by a female deacon. Why wait for that?

    The Faith has sturdily abided in the SSPX these past 50-60 years. Approach the good bishops there and ask for admittance. God Bless!

  4. Gaetano says:

    The enormity and pervasiveness of these bishops’ abject dereliction of duty is no shock.

    Given the bishops, religious superiors, and seminary rectors who actively ignored, encouraged, and participated in a range of abuses – sexual, doctrinal, and liturgical – no one who has been paying attention should be surprised.

    Most bishops skated through the Long Lent of 2001, even as the laity underwent their Virtus training and background checks.

    Now is their Day of Reckoning is at hand. After a profound revelation I experienced of the Divine Judgment that awaits them in the hereafter if they fail to repent, I pray for all of them.

    Memento mori. Death and Final Judgment are unavoidable. The only choice left to them is Heaven or Hell.

  5. Dismas says:

    I can certainly empathize with those who wrote you such heart wrenching messages. I was actually planning on composing one myself.

    The poison is hatching out. I am not a believer in random chance. “Uncle Ted” was outed on the anniversary of the greatest revolt against Church teaching since Arius defecated himself to death. On the eve of today’s feast, we were blessed with the revelation of names named for shamefully conspiring and enabling perverts to prey upon children. May the ripples capsize the wicked in high places – worldwide.

    1918 was not a kind year, and it brought forth many horrors. Fifty years later, the vast majority of clerics and laity alike abandoned perennial Church teaching for the false promises of consequence-free sex. This year will likely be terribly rotten too, but then, Christ Himself asked if He was to find faith when He returned.

  6. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    Three points:

    One: I disagree with his prayer. I pray that EVERY diocese is submitted to the same level scrutiny and transparency. Subpoena everyone. I’ve decided I am for the witchhunt. We don’t need to beat this dead horse ineffectually/partially every 10 years and kick the can of crap down the road to our kids for more bad press, let’s just beat all the dead horses NOW, and move on together. Break up and dismiss the current active homosecual clubs whivh are still a problem 8n present seminaries NOW. Fr. Z. Knew about this crap when he was in seminary. Priests in my diocese knew about it when they were in seminary. I want all the filth out, in the open NOW. Let the Church bear this guilt and let us move on NOW together. Let us see the gay pedophile network in the daylight NOW, let us purge it NOW. We have to move on NOW. Let’s fire the Cardinals and Bishops and Priests involved through commission or omission. NOW. If any priest knows of a gay network active homosexual priest from seminary days or currently in their diocese, start writing letters to their current Bishops and to Rome. Homosexuality is incompatible with the priesthood. We have to get these gays out of seminary admissions offices positions and mentorship positions NOW. The abuse has to stop NOW.

    80% of John Jay Report pedophilia cases were by priests with preceding active adult homosexuality. Homosexuality in the priesthood leads to children being serially sodomized and in some cases Satanically photographed as nude cruciform victims for the abusers for their child pornigraphy collection. Some of these pedophiles made their victims wear gold crosses so other PA priest abusers would know who could be abused easily and would keep quiet. Some of these PA priests drove their victims to abortion clinics. This is Satanic by any definition. Tolerance of actively homosexual priests leads to Satanism, period.

    Two: As above, what happened in PA is Satanic. I am not a conspiracy theorist. I’m not a radical trad. I am not a radical anything. I am a physician, I am a logical person. I try to find patterns in reality. I am a right of center moderate politically who recognizes being in Mother Church means not fitting any political profile easily. That said, I have been increasingly considering the testimony of Bella Dodd, Manning Johnson, and the Gay Manifesto. I had always considered the Alta Vendita probably nonsense. But, Jesus have mercy…multiple data points of independent attestation (some under oath to Congress by recent converts no less!) basically agreeing that a group of communists/masons/gays (these aren’t mutually exclusive categories by any means…) specifically entered men into the seminaries with the goal of destroying the Church from within through corrupt priests. I’ve been trying to make sense of how such a level of sex abuse/corruption/scandal could even happen in the Catholic Church. Why would so many priests in the 1970s/80s so easily and intentionally destroy the liturgy/architecture/Western Tradition with such gusto? It makes no sense unless they hated the Church, the West, Tradition. It makes sense if such a high proportion of them wer communists/gays/masons…nothing else makes sense logically.

    Three: my conclusion…there is only one way to explain the severity and ubiquity of the gay pedophile problem: the intentional instituational infiltration of seminaries by communists/masons/gays. They’re all co-sodomites or co-anti-religionists. They all don’t give a crap about the priesthood or the salvation of souls, they never intended chastity or celibacy. They all sodomized eachother and when someone found out publicized one of them, they all kept their mouths shut to avoid sharing in the public shaming and losing their positions of future scandal and under er mining of the Catholic Faith.

    There is no other explanation. A bishop wouldn’t hide scores of pedophiles at the expense of more and more children… unless he was involved…it isn’t in any way rational unless he shared in the filth by commission or omission. There is no other explanation.

    Get the filth out NOW.

  7. Dismas says:

    Hmmm…it seems that I posted in the wrong thread. Odd. Well, close enough I suppose.

    To the PA priest who wrote, remember that some of the faithful need to hear an angry, disgusted priest. The purpose of ad orientam is to lead…

  8. Deo Credo says:

    I am a bit concerned about the priests’ remark. I hope that all dioceses would experience the same “trial” I want as many evil priests and bishops exposed as possible. Cleaning involves scraping filth from what needs to be cleaned

  9. chantgirl says:

    Deo Credo- Exactly. We are going through this second round of pain and humiliation because the bishops didn’t finish the job the first time. If they cannot be trusted to finish the job, perhaps the FBI can look into it.

    Once birth pains start, there is no relief until the child is born. This process needs to happen, or we will be facing many further rounds of scandal.

    And, as much as I am sure good priests are going to suffer for the crimes of their brothers, right now our focus needs to be on the primary victims- those who were violated by men who represented God.

  10. DelRayVA says:

    There are many terrible things reported by the grand jury; it’s hard to take it in. There is one story among the many that I would like to offer thoughts on. This story caught my eye because I used to know the priest involved. I won’t repeat his name, as it’s easy enough to find it inside the report. One of the priests, sadly, was actively pursuing pornography online. At some point, he himself was sufficiently distressed by this that he reached out to his bishop and asked for help. Did any of the pornography involve children? He wasn’t sure; he didn’t think so, but he couldn’t rule it out. A forensic investigation of his computer showed that there were some disturbing images of children, but not ones that met the definition of pornography. With his bishop’s help, he went for treatment.

    The story goes on, and grows more disturbing. I want to pause at that point and ask: do you think this priest would have voluntarily reached out to his bishop and asked for help if he knew that almost a decade later his name would be published? I don’t think the diocese gave him the help he needed, and it’s important to bring that out. But, given that all these personnel files were turned over to the grand jury, and then eventually published, wouldn’t any priest who is struggling, who knows he needs help, be very reluctant to reach out to the very people who can help him? Doesn’t publishing his name in this report encourage hiding and perpetuating, rather than confessing and healing?

    Before this report was published, this priest was already serving a quiet life outside of public ministry. Publishing his name only serves to drive other struggling men deeper into hiding.

  11. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    **Fr. Z. and other priests knew about active homosexual priests in seminaries, not necessarily about active minor abuse issues*** I wanted to clarify what I was implying***

  12. aviva meriam says:

    The most important aspect of this report were the documented cases of Senior clergy acting to protect the offenders at the expense of the victims and the church as a whole. The DA took the time to demonstrate, for example, cases of Cardinal Wuerl’s culpability. I understand that, due to statute of limitations issues he (nor the others cited) cannot be charged for any of these criminal acts but at least they’ve been documented.

    This pain isn’t a reflection on the majority of the priests: this is a reflection on the leadership and spiritual failures of the Episcopacy. They failed to hold themselves accountable, they lied about their actions and their prior knowledge, they failed to implement orders from the Vatican regarding seminarians and SSA, and consequently they failed EVERYONE. I hate that the good priests have been swept up in the blame, and had the episcopacy done their jobs properly this entire episode (while a painful recitation of prior atrocities) would have provided an opportunity for everyone to do penance. Under those circumstances I doubt this report would have reopened the wounds and exposed the body underneath to further infection.

    Praying for priests. Praying the Holy Father holds to his promise of zero tolerance for any Cardinal, Bishop or senior cleric who participated in any manner of this sex-abuse scandal (including moving priests around, false denials, etc).

  13. JeromeThomas says:

    “I pray that no others are subjected to such a trial.”

    Others have said this already, but it very much bears repeating: this is the OPPOSITE of what we need. Every diocese must be subjected to this trial. Christ had to suffer at Gethsemane for sins not his own – His Church will have to suffer all the more for sins she is wholly complicit in. Given that the alternatives are to allow this to fester (and continue to hide the people who allowed it), to have witchhunts at random, or to systematically purge this from our ranks, the latter is the only option that will ever allow the Church in this country to eventually recover. And I fear that even then, the recovery will be measured in decades, if not centuries.

    To let this fester in the Church in secret is to remove the only bulwark there is against the world, whose false teachings infected the Church and which doesn’t truly believe that this behavior is wrong.

  14. It makes me physically ill to think of what this humiliation is doing to our good and faithful priests. I know by the grace of God that it is His will that our dear faithful priests will merit a high reward and we will be saved by their prayers. God help us all.

  15. JeromeThomas says:

    The full report is here:

    The reports of each individual act of abuse are from page 318 to page 887.

  16. Chris in Maryland 2 says:

    The main issue: numerous Bishops, including Cardinal Wuerl (and of course Mahony in LA) are guilty of criminal negligence – and some are probably guilty of worse.

    And now the websites of the ADW and the USCCB are “grooming” Catholic faithful with therapeutic “anger management” propaganda.

    The model of the Church is sheep with good shepherds.

    Not cattle with cattle thieves.

  17. TonyO says:

    The letter from a priest of PA to Fr. Z is heart-wrenching. But not as heart-wrenching as the travails of victims who came forward to report abuse and were treated as “problems” that needed to be covered up and hidden away. On balance, the latter have to be given precedence.

    The cover-ups have to stop. That means something NEW has to be done to deal with the mess. The Church had many decades before 2002 to learn about the problem, and failed to deal with it properly. In 2002 the Boston media forced Boston and then the rest of the US Church to realize they needed to take positive steps, better ones…and yet they failed again. So, once again, it is proven that outside forces were needed to break open a logjam of secrecy and failures. Coming on the heels of Cardinal McCarrick, it is obvious that Cardinal Wuerl’s attitude is (a) common among the bishops, and (b) part of the problem, not part of the solution. He is not at all the only problem bishop who must have known McCarrick’s issues and did nothing about them.

    So, I am sorry, Father, very sorry that many, many fine and upstanding priests are going to have their records raked through with a fine-tooth comb for any problems, and (preferably) by persons not part of the circle of secrecy. It is apparent that the bishops cannot be trusted to police themselves on this, and the “old-(gay)-boys network” of criminal and complicit priests certainly CAN be trusted to do everything they can to obstruct disclosure. So, it is inevitable that the pathway forward MUST involve others, who are not beholden to the bishops, who are outsiders to the mess, who can be trusted to have an independent eye for the patterns of abuse and secrecy. After 60 years of digging themselves deeper with this mess, the dioceses cannot get out of the hole on their own any more. This is the price that even the GOOD priests are going to have to pay.

    There may be one or two dioceses who did not play into the same patterns. Maybe. Due to the institutional process of selecting bishops and transferring bishops from one diocese to another when a prior one retires, though, you can be sure that by and large ALL of the US dioceses were being run by bishops and administrations that had very similar outlooks on “how things are done”. So, even if one or two dioceses are clean, we won’t know they were clean if they don’t also go through the investigative process of exposure and clean-up. And at this point, “privacy” and “scandal” are no longer sufficient reasons to accept the bishops’ insistence on doing everything internally.

    The grand jury report, what I saw of it anyway, is not sensationalist or “out to get them”. It is starkly matter-of-factual. I don’t say that it must be a grand jury in every state that must investigate, but it needs to be some agency outside the control of the bishops.

  18. Joy65 says:

    We were asked to pray about this entire situation this morning at Mass. I KNOW I did. God have mercy on us and on the whole world. PLEASE rid our Catholic Church dear Lord of anyone who is not there for your will and your will alone. If there are ANY other reasons for someone being Priests or members of the clergy than serving you Lord let them be removed, gone and not have them look back. I pray & hope all those who have wronged even one innocent my be truly sorry and repent of their sins and ask the Lord’s forgiveness. God’s Divine Mercy is there for anyone. if they truly are sorry and want forgiveness. May Your Catholic Church Lord be cleaned out, strengthened, made the way you intended it to be and be here until you come again. Amen.

  19. Sonshine135 says:

    It is well past time for an inquisition! Our own inquisition- each on a personal level first and foremost, and then Rome must start taking this seriously. God bless the Pope, but he is week and ineffective, and I dare say that he has done nothing to fix these problems and in fact, is promoting division through the promotion of homosexualists like Fr. James Martin, SJ. It is beyond scandalous! If a large enough number of Cardinals could work together, perhaps a gentle encouragement for this Pope to resign would work, and a real reformer could be put in place to get this train back on track.

  20. I want to make a few points, one of which may be unwelcome:

    1. These are allegations; the authorities who released all this information were not in a position to verify them. I’m not saying they are all false, or even mostly false. I am pointing out we don’t know how much of it is true. I would remind everyone that about 30 years ago, there was a very famous case in which owners of a pre-school were accused — and convicted — of child abuse, and only later did the whole thing fall apart. And I would remind everyone that there are good reasons to believe that some innocent priests have been falsely accused, and even convicted.

    2. That said, I am forced to assume that quite a lot of this is true.

    3. Yesterday was a heavy day for me, although I had a wonderful lift late in the day. I was so discouraged; then I went into the sacristy about 40 minutes before the evening Mass — which would be a “high” Mass, requiring lots of servers — and I remembered that I hadn’t really done enough to round up servers, so would many show up? But when I stepped into the sacristy, it was filled with servers! And more came after. I told the boys, without explaining, how much they had lifted my spirits.

    4. DelRayVa makes an excellent point above. Under the new circumstances, priests who are facing moral trials can no longer go to their bishops. No one seems to care about this. Bishops were supposed to be fathers; but not anymore. They are now merely employers. Presumably, priests can still go to other priests; but notice we have a rising chorus of voices demanding that if a priest knows about another priest struggling with sins, he should out that priest. So maybe that door will be closed soon, too. This is not the answer!

  21. aliceinstpaul says:

    “I am The Good Shepherd. I lay down my life for my sheep.” Not “I feel sorry for and protect the other shepherds who are really having a hard time and feeling discouraged right now.”

    We will have holiness in the Church when the bishops *and the priests* lay down their lives –their positions, their reputations, their financial security, their regard, their friendships, and eventually their lives for the sheep.

  22. crjs1 says:

    I can’t begin to understand the pain of the priest who wrote to Fr Z, but I’m concerned about the view ‘that no others are subjected to such a trial’. Surely all dioceses, and not just in the USA, should be subject to exactly this level of investigation until the scourge of pedophile priests is dealt with and removed from the church.

    Full public disclosure and accountability is needed, no more covering to avoid scandal.

  23. GregB says:

    At the Catholic World Report there is a comment by a reader about why good priests don’t turn in bad priests and he referenced a church bulletin article by Fr. Edwin Palka, of the Epiphany of Our Lord Catholic Church in Tampa, Florida:
    The priest said that the active homosexual clergy can engage in entrapment to neutralize the faithful clergy. Some of it involves the use of the confessional.

  24. chantgirl says:

    Consider the case of Bishop Finn, and his removal. Consider the mountain of accusations against Cardinal Wuerl. Resignation is the bare minimum Wuerl should face.

    All will be revealed when Christ returns anyway. The Lord is offering these men who have done heinous things the chance to come clean now and do their penance on earth instead of what they could eternally face.

    Punishment NOW could be mercy for them later.

  25. HvonBlumenthal says:

    Have you noticed that when it’s a criminal offence like rape, the bishops studiously followed canon law and ignored civilian law altogether.

    But when it comes to offences under canon law, such as having carnal relations with grown men or even women, suddenly the bishops are confining the issue to criminal matters only…..

  26. aliceinstpaul says:

    –why good priests don’t turn in bad priests…The priest said that the active homosexual clergy can engage in entrapment to neutralize the faithful clergy.

    Quo vadis?

  27. GregB:

    People seem to think that priests all know each others’ business. I can only speak for myself: I do not.

    If there is a “network” in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, where I am, I don’t know anything about it. No one has invited me!

    Obviously priests hear other priests’ confessions, and nothing can be said about any of that. Beyond that, priests do seek out other priests for advice on personal challenges, and I think that should be encouraged, shouldn’t it? But if I came to know (or strongly suspect) — outside the confessional — that a fellow priest was engaged in serious wrongdoing, and was unrepentant, I would confront him. I don’t have any definite plan for doing so, as I have never had anything even close. Over the years, I am always surprised when word reaches me that Father So-and-so had been removed for this or that impropriety.

  28. Pingback: Wherein Fr. Z offers one of the hardest posts he has ever written | Fr. Z's BlogFr. Z's Blog

  29. GregB says:

    Fr. Martin Fox:
    The article that I referenced was was about how the hierarchy of active homosexual clergy can isolate and neutralize faithful clergy. The priest who wrote the article has made some responses in the comments section of the articles. He has also written two more articles and says he will be doing one more. The point the priest was making was that the active homosexual clergy can twist the activities of priestly formation and ministry to use them in a bad way to advance their agenda. One thing he talked about was the files that the Church has on all priests and seminarians. I’m not a priest nor have I ever been a seminarian, so I don’t have first hand information about these things. But something is wrong with the Church when things can get this bad, and so many priests are reluctant to call a sin a sin. The small c catholics came from somewhere and receive their support from somewhere. We were told in the Bible to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. In the current circumstances it is getting hard to tell friend from foe.

  30. HvonBlumenthal says:

    Fr. Fox,

    Forgive my ignorance but can’t you confront a priest even in the confessional? Isn’t that, in a sense, what hearing a confession partly consists of?

    And if it is evident that there is no intention to reform, surely the confession is invalid and you are free to do what you will with the information? Or have I got that wrong?

  31. Hvon:

    Of course I can confront a priest — or anyone — in the confessional, but unless I’m misunderstanding you, I don’t know why you think this would happen except in the rarest circumstance. Recall what I said: “…a fellow priest was engaged in serious wrongdoing, and was unrepentant, I would confront him.

    But in my experience, when people come to confession, they manifest repentance. Sometimes people are confused about particular sins, or unaware something is a sin, or how grave it is; and sometimes people are anxious because they anticipate great difficulty in trying to avoid particular sins. And where necessary, I will explain why something is a sin, and try to help people see the way forward. But to have someone come to confession, confess a sin, and then manifest that s/he is not repentant? Yes, of course that could happen — and yes, it would not be a valid confession, and I would refuse absolution. But this is in actual experience a very bizarre scenario.

    Could someone fake it? Of course; but how would I know? I presume good faith unless something very obviously calls it into question. Isn’t that what all priests do? Isn’t that we all want priests to do?

    So I’m simply confused about how you imagine this “confronting” to happen in confession; I apologize if my answer isn’t as helpful as it might be.

  32. Oops, I’m sorry for the out of control bold text!

  33. ChesterFrank says:

    Do you think the institutional abuse of the mentally ill at New York States Willowbrook ended with Geraldo Rivera singular news story? You don’t hear much of that, it was brushed under the rug quickly. These stories of homosexual priests escapades isn’t investigative reporting, its exploitation bordering on propaganda. It isn’t reported objectively, its spun to enforce a political agenda.

  34. HvonBlumenthal says:

    Fr Fox,

    Thank you.

    Here’s what I would do if I were an unrepentant paedophile priest:

    I would systematically go to every priest in my diocese, as well as my bishop, any auxiliaries and if possible the archbishop, and ask for confession.

    Then with crocodile tears I would confess all the things that I really would not want to be accused of in a court. And based on the presumption of good faith I would feel confident that my secrets were safe.

  35. Hvon:

    If anyone were to do as you say, it might indeed impede priests from acting, because they were concerned about violating the seal. However, I cannot fathom the depravity of such a person. And such a person would be committing an appalling sacrilege under the very nose, as it were, of the Almighty. Such an individual would be rushing headlong into the abyss of hell and making his own damnation vastly more likely by a terrible hardness of heart. It frightens me, right now, to contemplate that.

    There are not always remedies in this world, but God will not be mocked.

  36. HvonBlumenthal says:

    Thank you Father Fox.

    It follows that if a priest were to hear such a confession, he could reasonably demand evidence of repentance before giving absolution. For example he could demand that the penitent report himself to his ordinary or to law enforcement. [No. That’s not how it works.]

  37. Hvon said:

    It follows that if a priest were to hear such a confession, he could reasonably demand evidence of repentance before giving absolution. For example he could demand that the penitent report himself to his ordinary or to law enforcement.

    No, I’m sorry, it does not follow. Do you go to confession? Does the priest hearing your confession “demand evidence” of your repentance? To dispense the mysteries of God is an awesome responsibility, and for anyone who dispenses the mysteries to the people, to add a requirement — for receiving them — beyond what actually is required, is actually terrible, not good as some might suppose. I act as Holy Mother Church directs, and I add nothing to what is required. I dare not!

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